Four weeks before Hannah Clarke and her three children were burnt alive, a psychologist said she had “no concerns” about the killer’s mental health, that he was “coping remarkably well” with his marriage breakdown, and that restarting contact with his children “would be ideal”.
Psychologist Vivian Jarrett struggled to explain her assessment of Rowan Baxter, and she was clearly shaken when she left the coronial inquest on Thursday, which is coming to a close after almost two weeks of evidence.
Ms Clarke, 31, and her children – daughters Aaliyah, 6, Laianah, 4, and son Trey, 3 – died after Baxter doused the inside of the family’s SUV in petrol and ignited it in Camp Hill in Brisbane’s south on February 19, 2020. Baxter died at the scene from self-inflicted wounds.
Ms Jarrett was one of several professionals to have contact with Baxter in the weeks before the killings. He had repeatedly insisted he did not have a problem.
Ms Jarrett saw Baxter for six sessions and wrote a letter on January 21, 2020, giving her opinion of his mental health, his parenting abilities and whether he should have access to his children.
“Mr Baxter has been stressed over his wife leaving him suddenly, but has been coping remarkably well, given the situation,” the letter said.
“I have no concerns with his mental health. Contact with his children would be ideal and after reviewing his parenting strategy, all seems in order for him to regain contact.”
Twenty-nine days later, Baxter killed them.
Jacoba Brasch, the barrister assisting deputy state coroner Jane Bentley in the inquest, asked whether Ms Jarrett ever thought Baxter could be “pulling the wool” over her eyes.